Your Bristol UCU Newsflash, 22nd February 2017

1) Meet UCU For Lunch, Tuesday 28 February, 12.30-13.30, 7G1, 7 Priory Rd

Sign up at our Eventbrite page:

2) Timetabling & Staff Constraints

Members may be aware of the decision on Monday at Senate to withdraw, subject to further consideration, the proposed extension to the teaching week by 4 hours. This would have meant starting at 08:30 and ending at 18:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Recommendations to introduce institutional timetabling and to review staff constraints procedure passed.

Thanks to members and reps who shared their views at Senate.

Bristol UCU looks forwards to further meaningful consultation on any proposed changes to the working week and on making flexible working requests a fairer, more equitable, properly resourced process.

3) Times Higher Teaching Survey

The recent Times Higher Teaching Survey highlights a truth universally acknowledged: ‘[a]cademics enjoy teaching. What they don’t like is the lack of preparation time, bureaucratic burdens, unprepared students – and the TEF’.

Among other things, the Survey highlights that 82% of academics and 71 % of administrators believe that the NSS bears no relationship to teaching quality.

4) NSS Boycott

Members will have seen the University of Bristol and Bristol UCU statement last week [PDF].

NSS Boycott material is on the UCU website:

Members may also be interested in the recent Epigram story, ‘Lecturers in ‘gagging’ row over NSS boycott’.

5) Pensions

With the USS valuation coming up in March – its triennial health check – University employers such as Bristol are giving their views on the future of USS.

Proposed changes to the scheme may be on the agenda if USS is still projected to be in substantial deficit. That means Scheme trustees being lobbied by both employers and UCU.

Early signs are that the long-term University of Bristol aspiration is to have a single defined contributions scheme for all staff.

The national UCU position is that the current ‘crisis’ around defined benefits schemes is an artefact of overly pessimistic valuation methodology. Bristol UCU has a further meeting planned to discuss the approach to valuation.

6) Taking Action on Racism

Have you or one of your colleagues or friends experienced racism at work?

If you can answer yes to either of these questions then the TUC would love to hear from you.

The TUC has launched an online survey to expose the everyday reality of racism in the workplace:

Please act now, encourage your colleagues and friends to complete the survey by Monday 27 February.

7) Petition – Abandon the Higher Education & Research Bill

The Bill is being beat up in the House of Lords: think the Government should abandon it?: